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Division of Labor and the Rise of Cities: Evidence from U.S. Industrialization, 1850-1880



Industrial revolution in the United States first took hold in rural New England as factories arose and grew in a handful of industries such as textiles and shoes. However, as factory scale economies rose and factory production techniques were adopted by an ever growing number of industries, industrialization became concentrated in cities throughout the Northeastern region which came to be known as the manufacturing belt. While it is extremely difficult to rule out other types of agglomeration economies such as spillovers, this paper suggests that these geographic developments associated with industrial revolution in the U.S. are most consistent with explanations based on division of labor, job search and matching costs.

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